I CUSSED OUT THE ANGEL THEY SENT ME AND BEGGED A HOLLYWOOD CEMETERY GHOST TO BE MY GUARDIAN, TO WHICH SHE REPLIED

BY H. SAMUEL MOYLER

“Why?

I’d be but a pale imitation
of those seraphs on high
with the wings in their backs
and the fruits in their eyes.

And I couldn’t lamp your path
in the valley of death
or save your soul from Sheol
when you’ve heaved your last breath—”

I cut her off there.
enough of that.
bozhe moi. keep up the meter rhyme

and they’ll sign you as a contributor
to the next edition of Cherub’s First Hymnal.
not the sort of thing I’m seeking
in a spiritual vanguard, dig?

but hers was a valid question,
one I felt the urge to answer
holistically. so I drove her to church
in my cherry hyundai, me almost

remembering to remind her
to buckle her seatbelt. and we
haunted the pews
until we found a good seat, where I

could rather comfortably
put up my feet and spin
my yarn about why I
told Gabriel’s little

goon to buzz off. well,
that’s not really what
I said. but antebellum women
aren’t remembered well

for their toleration of slurs. or much else.
still I told her of the heresies,
drenched in dread, that inched
through the (y)ears

as though tentative tendrils
into my head, and coiled
here, knowledge of good and evil.
and I said I couldn’t abide by

deities who allow
the dropping of bombs on gilead
and let us split adams open for
far more bellicose reasons

than rib-harvesting.
And I told her of all the perks
that there’d be, were my
soul entrusted to an ex-

person, who like me,
had fallen from heaven.
backslidden. And she
slapped me in the face.

stung like that itch you get
when your foot’s asleep,
which my left one was.
consequently. she began to float

away. “You’re but a fool and a braggart
if you expect me to be
an accomplice to your spiritual
Self-butchery.”

and she left me there, boundless.
and not for the last time in
church, I was lost and found
myself in song again:

“This doubt is gonna be
the death of me.
Lord, Lord.
Doubt is gonna be the death of me.”

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